Monday, April 28, 2008


The Power and The Glory

On the first day of school,
after we recited the “Our Father”,
you came to my desk,
pressed the rubber tip of your crutch
on my chest, told me to stand,
repeat the prayer for the class.

I knotted the hem of my skirt as I
tried to pronounce each word correctly.
Did she forget anything, children?
Billy Slezak jumped out of his seat
reciting words I’d never heard…
For thine is the kingdom and the power
and the glory. Ahmen

I didn’t forget, Miss Norman
I don’t say it that way.
We say it that way, don’t we Billy?
And we don’t have to go to Sunday school
to learn to say Ahmen, do we?
Did you hear her say Aymen?
Billy snickered, Yes, Miss Norman.

I hated Billy-he could recite times tables
from memory, spell words like toilet backwards.
After school, he’d wash blackboards, clap erasers
or put a new rubber tip on your crutch.

At Christmas, you took the class to your house
to see your aquariums, your tropical fish.
You looked like the pope sitting in your red
velvet chair with the class at your feet-except Billy.
His chair was in front of the aquarium.

Don’t let Gloria near my fish, Billy.
She always eats fish on Friday.

I didn’t eat your fish and I didn’t eat
the sweet sugar cookies you served either.
I wrapped them in a red linen napkin
took them home and put them
in my dresser drawer with a sweater
that didn’t fit anymore.

When the cookies turned to crumbs
I threw them in the garbage but
saved the fancy linen napkin.

Years later, my house burned down
and your napkin, with the letter
“N” embroidered in one corner,
went up in smoke.

Yet, no matter how hard I try to slam
the door on you and Billy Slezak
it’s pried open with that hard rubber tip
on the end of your crutch.

Gloria Rovder Healy
!Published in The Poets of New Jersey:
From Colonial to Contemporary Times)

The Ten Dollar Bill

Girls, from towns named Havre de Grace,
were chauffered in cadillacs.
Fathers, in vested suits, officed on Capitol Hill.
Mothers, brimming from leghorn hats,
arrived in magnolia chiffon.

I was from a small Jersey town where
grandmother walked to Eisner's factory
to sew linings in army overcoats.
Tuesdays, mom went to firehouse rummage sales
seeking bargains she'd make into Cassini look‑a‑likes.
Dad, in khaki pants, flannel shirts, black work shoes,
hauled Duncan Phyfe furniture from one southern
mansion to another, then another.

Detouring on his way to Charleston,
he parked his mustard yellow van with
pistachioed palm trees under my dorm window.
I cringed when the loudspeaker bellowed,
Your father's here, Miss...
The class queen, passing me on the down staircase,
yelled, Whose gaudy truck is taking up half of
O street?
My reply: How would I know?

Dad's eyes flowed when he saw my Georgetown cap.
Pidge, you look like a pro. Without a hello, I asked,
Why didn't you leave the van at the truck stop?
Don't worry, he replied, it'll disappear before your
friends see it.

Pressing a ten dollar bill in my fist he kissed me goodbye.
I ran to my room shared with a Senator's daughter.
My father, his gaudy truck headed south on US 1.

Gloria Rovder Healy

Published in The Connecticut Review

Life in the Garden

Today I weeded my long neglected garden
Handful by handful, I pulled choking wild onions
from the Moonbeam Coreopsis.

As I yanked dandelions and crippling crab grass
from the roots of purple coneflowers, I’m startled
by a brown mouse who ignores me and stares
over my shoulder to the driveway.
I turn to see her baby on its back flailing
its tiny legs unable to right itself.
I pick it up, toss it in the wheelbarrow
with discarded chicory and cockleburr.
She scurries to the safe forsythia.

I deadhead the peonies and hear a soft squeal
The mouse is back- still staring at the driveway.
I find her baby in the wheel barrow’s
jumble of white clover and milkweed.
Its legs are limp.
I pick up the still body on the end of my trowel
and bury it in the shade of the weeping cherry tree.

An earthworm inches across my stained fingers –
black with soil that won’t easily wash away.

Gloria Rovder Healy

Published in the Edison Literary Review

Grandma and Her Button Jar

The tallest glass jar I'd ever seen
sat near a window in Gran's sewing room.
filled with buttons from family old clothes...
brass buttons, glass buttons, lace buttons;
buttons guised as roses, apples and angels.

Gran would often put buttons in tiny
tin cans with palm trees on their sides.
Holding them above her head, she'd spin around
the kitchen, shaking the cans like spanish castinets,
The best times came when she'd select her
favorite button and tell its story.

Tiny white lace ones from the sleeve of her
wedding gown reminded her of the secret ceremony...
secret because she was Irish Catholic;
her bridegroom, English Protestant.
In the old country, they were forbidden to marry.

When she held the shiny brass button from
Grandpop's blue striped overalls, she recalled
riding the famous Blue Comet while Grandpa
engineered it up and down Jersey tracks.

Tears welled when she touched
the white linen button from her sister Kate's
first communion dress, made from the family's
Sunday dinner tablecloth.

Gran was quiet when she clutched the army button
from her young brother Tom's World War I uniform.
He didn't come home.

When Gran turned 75 she could still remember
stories about her beautiful buttons but
often forgot her name, where she lived,
when she was born or who was president.
Momma said Gran was mental so she admitted her
to the state hospital... a place neighbors whispered about,
fearing it would someday be their fate too.

I went to visit her, found her tied to a rocking chair
singing hymns about Blessed Virgin Mary..
She grabbed my hand, pleading for her button jar
After searching her sewing room, the attic, the cellar,
I asked momma if she knew where it was.

Momma answered,
I got rid of it. Sold it for pennies.
I should have thrown it away.
That old thing wasn't worth anything.

Gloria Rovder Healy
(Previously Published in the Paterson Literary Review)


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Last Thursday Poetry Reading

Last Thursday Poetry Series
May 24, 2008
7:00 p.m.
Wes Czyzewski
Gina Larkin
JC Todd
Middletown Public Library
55 New Monmouth Rd
open mic
book sales and signings

Monday, April 14, 2008

Last Thursday Poetry Series

Middletown Township, the home of Connie Chung, Jon Bon Jovi, Ann McNeil, the former Monmouth County Poet Laureate and the gorgeous Middletown Library, has recently added to its “proud” list, the monthly “Last Thursday Poetry Series”.
The series, created when the Library’s Program Chair, Kathleen Ligon and Shrewsbury poet, Gloria Rovder Healy, joined forces and introduced this series in 2007. Opening the series were poets published in the best selling anthology, The Poets of New Jersey: From Colonial to Contemporary Times, Gloria, as emcee, introduced poet/editor Frank Finale from Bayville, Matawan’s Bob McKenty and Bloomfield’s Madeline Tiger. How kind this trio was to launch this series with no reading fee. All we could hope for were book sales and the audience came through!
About 20 poetry fans attended that first night and now the audience has grown to 35 or more and on the last Thursday of every month you can not only hear the voices of poets from all over New Jersey but you can also hear applause, cheers, laughter and standing ovations. New Jersey poets are being joined by poets from New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut whom we warmly welcome.
The programs are diverse. Some nights, the poets take us down memory lane –some nights they will bring tears and many evenings are hilarious.
Everything from Black History in January to Irish poets and poetry in March and in April - National Poetry Month are celebrated. At each event, there is an open reading where all poets who attend may read their poetry and featured poets not only do a book signing but now receive a reading fee.
It’s been Gloria Healy’s mission to bring poets and poetry to Monmouth County. T’was once rumored there was no poetry south of the Edison Bridge—just beach bums…we still have bright beach bums but we also have fantastic poets including Pushcart Prize nominees and yes, even a Pulitzer Prize nominee, sharing their words with poetry lovers…and beach buns too.
If you’re driving down Rt 35 near New Monmouth Road some Thursday evening and hear rounds of applause…remember there‘s a poetry reading going on...come and join this celebration of words.
We’ll be hosting these poetry readings on the last Thursday of each month through December, 2009 and we sincerely thank all participating poets …without you we would be sitting on a beach reading your work instead of listening to you read.
How great that is!
Check my Upcoming Events for specific information about who's reading when.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Where I Come From

T'is rumored there are few poets south of the Edison Bridge...just clam diggers. Admittedly, we Monmouth County poets body surf and tan in the sun, but we also write poetry - often on the beach. Our poet hstory goes back to Philip Freneau, who wrote "The Battle of Monmouth" in the 1700's. You can visit Philip Freneau's grave im Matawan or visit Dorothy Parker's house in West End or Stephen Crane's in Asbury Park. Walt Whitman vacationsd in Ocean Grove and wrote "Fancies of the Navesink" sitting where Twin Lights Lighthouse is now. Today we have a Pulitzer Prize nominee living in Neptune. US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky was born and raised in Long Branch. We also claim fine contemporary poets like John Baldwin, Virginia Bryan, Dr.Carl Calendar, Emanuel di Pasquale, Nancy Drake, Frank Finale, Gladys Goldberg, Gilda Kreuter, Colleen Lineberry, Bob McKenty, Laura McCullough, Paula Newcomer, Alissa Pecora, Thomas Reiter, Beverly Rosenblum, Lorraine Stone, Michael Thomas, Dr.Christine Redman-Waldeyer and me!

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Welcome to Sand Castles

Perhaps your visit will remind you of the days you built sand castles on a beach only to have them washed away by a white-capped wave. That won't happen here--you can build new sand castles or fondly remember old ones--maybe you'll even write a poem about sand castles. I live near the Atlantic Ocean so I walk along the beach every day collecting shells, sand dollars and counting swashmarks at water's edge. If I don't find a treasure as I stroll the beach, I always find a poem. Come walk with me and perhaps you'll find a treasure or a poem at water's edge too.

The Sandcastle

From the beach its sandy walls rise,
Its turrents reach up to touch the skies.
A tiny moat dissolves the keep.
Its pavers are strong,
though only two inches deep.
Tiny footprints embedded in the sand,
Where once a child there did stand.
Its grace and beauty a short time will last,
Before the sea washes it into the past.
- Author Unknown

Who am I?

My mom sent me to dancing school for years hoping I'd be Shirley didn't happen! My Dad sent me to Georgetown University's School of Nursing hoping I'd be a Florence Nightingale and I was until I discovered Edna St Vincent Millay's, Lips I've Kissed... I knew immediatly I wanted to write poetry. So back to school I went to study Creative Writing with Dr.Carl Calendar at Brookdale Community Colledge. I now am a poet whose poems have appeared in Animus, Connecticut Review, Edison Literary Review, Exit 13, Journal of New Jersey Poets, LIPS, Paterson Literary Review, Spindrift, The Poets of New Jersey:From Colonial to Contemporary Times. A book of my own poetry is titled, "Out Of My Mind" which, by the way, includes poems about Shirley Temple and Florence Nightingale! I've been nominated for the Pushcart Award and been a nine time finalist in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Contest I was a reader at Diane Lockward's Girl Talk and how excited I was when the poets published in The Poets of New Jersey:From Colonial to Contemporary Times read at the Dodge Poetry Festival. I was co-host and coordinator of both the Long Branch and Walt Whitman Poetry Festivals and poetry readings at Red Bank and Middletown Libraries. It's been an exciting journey!